This week, I’m From Driftwood’s (IFD) Nathan Manske is taking part in the AIDS/LifeCycle, a 7 day, 545 mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. This ride raises funds to support the HIV/AIDS services of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Of course, Nathan couldn’t miss the opportunity to add to IFD’s ever-growing collection of true, LGBTQ stories from all over, so he’s collecting them while on the road.
There were two videos that grabbed my attention when I opened my browser to catch up on Nathan’s posts.
The first is from a remarkable young man by the name of Kenny who chose, during the course of the ride, to call home to his mother and to come out as HIV positive. Growing up queer and in a state with comprehensive sex education from the seventh grade forward, I have never not been educated about HIV/AIDS, and I have been on the receiving end of that conversation enough that it feels almost routine. However, even knowing all that I do about anti-retrovirals and living a long, healthy life with the virus, I still cannot imagine being a parent receiving that news.
The second story comes to us from Chad in L.A., and he talks about how his first ride in AIDS/LifeCycle helped his father come to terms with his sexuality, as well as helped him see his father in a new light.
There are many points of entry for straight allies into the lives of LGBTQ people. Some may meet a gay person whose life is much like their own, and recognize a shared humanity. Others might appreciate some aspect of queer culture very much outside of their daily experience, like drag or ballroom shows. And for many, especially in the eighties but continuing today, the entry point to our community has related to HIV/AIDS. In this case, it was a chance for Chad’s father to simply ask “How can I help?” A simple question led to an incredible experience that brought tears to my eyes.
J. Rudy Flesher, a Philadelphia based actor and author, holds a B.A. in Women’s and Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey, and is an award-winning feminist scholar. Ze blogs here and at The Pistol in Bed Thirteen, works with PhinLi Bookings to connect LGBTQ and sex positive talent with audiences, and is currently writing hir first book, an essay collection on the daily experiences of a genderqueer life.
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